How to get a visa into the U.S.Immigration laws are complex and people immigrating to the United States have to jump through many hurdles to obtain permanent residency status. It's one thing to fall within an immigrant benefits category, but it's something else entirely to obtain immigrant status. It can take years or even decades to obtain legal permanent resident status.

Most immigrant visas for the United States are limited. Additionally, for each category there are only a certain number available, which is also dependent on a person's country of origin.

What is the Visa Bulletin?

The visa bulletin is a monthly bulletin supplied by the U.S. Department of State. This bulletin lists the availability of immigrant visas for each month, which is dependent on how many have already been issued. The bulletin is normally available by the end of the second week of a month and lists the availability dates for the next month. You can always access the bulletin via the State Department website.

Visa Bulletin Categories

The two main ways a person can obtain permanent resident status in the US are:

  1. Through a family member, or
  2. Through employment

Under the family and employment categories there are additional "sections" or "preferences."

Under each of those sections the number of visas permitted is also broken down into several different geographic locations. There are five different geographic slots: China, India, Mexico, Philippines and Worldwide. Citizens of countries other than the specific ones mentioned fall under the Worldwide category.

Therefore, whether a person is eligible for the Green Card depends not only on the the category of Visa attempted, but also the individual's country of origin.

The visa bulletin follows priority dates to determine a person’s eligibility date. The date the petition is filed is usually used as the eligibility  date.

Once a person knows what category and section they fall under as well as their filing date, they will be able to track on the Visa Bulletin when their priority date will be available and thus, they will be able to request their permanent resident status.

To learn more about the Visa Bulletin, click here.

To read about Immigration law or to find a skilled immigration attorney, click here.